Evanescent | Old Growth Timber

Vanishing; quickly disappearing…

  • August 27, 1957- last old growth Douglas Fir tree removed from forest
  • September 11, 1957- last old growth log sawed in the mill
  • April 19, 1958- last of old growth lumber shipped by Oregon-American Lumber Company

Gone within 4 decades –  what took 3-6 centuries to grow…

Over the course of forty years, the Oregon-American Lumber Company and its successors  harvested -to depletion- one of the finest old-growth stands of Douglas fir timber known to modern man. The 300-600 year-old trees that grew on the  ten sections of land (6,400 acres) owned by the company were notable for lumber that was uniform in character and density.

None of that old-growth stand remains. Reforested Douglas Fir in the vicinity are, at most, sixty-five years old. I will venture to say that some of the replanted trees have also been harvested; and the areas where they grew have been reforested again.

It’s a perplexing situation…  The logging industry relies on evanscent practices, and oddly does so to assure sustainability.

A fuel bunker and the man-made mill pond are the soul remnants of the old mill site. Ironically, Oregon Ash trees form a canopy over the building where there once was a roof.

O-A Lumber Mill, Vernonia, 1929 Oregon-American mill at Vernonia, 1929. Oreg. State Univ. Archives, Gerald W. Williams Collec., illiamsG:CR_Vernonia mill

A few pilings from the log operation can still be seen in Vernonia Lake. The 45 acre lake was man-made as a log-sorting pond for the mill. Now, it is part of a local park. The pond is home to Bass, Crappie, Perch, and Blue Gill. It is annually stocked by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife with Rainbow Trout.  


Gone are the mill, machinery, and cutting standards honed specifically for the production of lumber from old-growth trees. Millsaws are no longer gauged for old growth tree dimensions. Are you prepared to be astonished? Study the diagram that charts out the Contents of a (old growth) Douglas Fir Log. I find the variety and dimensions of the specs nothing short of remarkable.

Oregon’s old growth forests… once abundant, now vanishing. Evanescent…


  1. The Oregon Encyclopedia- Oregon American Lumber Company
  2. Oregon Hikers- Vernonia Lake Loop Hike
  3. City of Vernonia- Vernonia Lake

Weekly Photo Challenge: May 17, 2017 | “Evanescent


  1. It makes me sad to read this, Jane, although I do marvel at the illustration of the uses of the tree! We’re so profligate with the many, many blessings we’ve been given.


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